~~~

  • The Economist – The euro-zone crisis:  Europe’s three great delusions
    The continent’s leaders have still not grasped how much they need to do to save the euro
    The first is shoot-the-messenger syndrome. Too many European politicians lay all the blame on speculators, hedge funds, rating agencies and the rest for “unwarranted” attacks on the euro. Such thinking has informed Germany’s decision to ban “naked” short-selling of government bonds. The German regulator itself admits that this practice played little part in the Greek mess. The ban will apply only in Germany, whereas most short-selling happens in London. If it has any impact at all, it will merely make it harder to sell government bonds.
    The second delusion might be termed excessive faith in shock-and-awe. … In truth, Greece’s debt problem is one of insolvency, not illiquidity—and insolvency cannot be rectified by piling on more debt, however shocking and awesome the amount. Instead, euro-zone governments and regulators should start planning now for an orderly debt restructuring, including the imposition of losses (“haircuts”) on banks that hold Greek debt.
    The third and most disturbing delusion is that deeper structural reform is not necessary; everything will be fine if only Greece and other euro-zone laggards cut their budget deficits. Several notorious fiscal reprobates are promising Angela Merkel that they will whip themselves into line. This is both masochistic and cowardly.

Comment

There is a misguided belief that yet another bailout package will be announced this weekend and this one will finally solve the crisis.  There is already a $1 trillion bailout in place, larger than the TARP.  This was the sixth emergency bailout announced this spring and the largest.  Each one was designed to “wow” the markets after the previous one was deemed inadequate.

This kind of thinking misses the point of the problem of the crisis.  See the highlighted part above.  This is a solvency crisis.  Letting Greece or other PIIGS countries borrow more money is not the answer.  Greece has already been bailed out and does not need to borrow from the capital markets until 2013 (they will get their loans from other Euro-zone countries directly).  So, the Greeks are already “covered” as part of the 750 billion euro deal announced two weeks ago.

The problem is the market is not buying this “fix too much debt with more debt” approach.  More bailouts are not the answer.  Austerity is the answer.

~~~

  • BusinessWeek – Come Together
    The euro zone’s crisis can only be solved by unity, says ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet. So why is everyone talking about blowing it up?
    Anyone trying to predict the outcome of Europe’s financial crisis should pay close attention to Jean-Claude Trichet. As head of the Bank of France in 1999, he helped create the euro. After seven years babysitting the new specie as president of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Trichet and the euro are as intertwined as a man and a currency can be. He is too invested to let it break apart on his watch. Whatever emotional tug the 67-year-old Trichet may feel, though, is counterbalanced by his devotion to sound money and central bank independence. He doesn’t want to debase the euro just to keep shakier members of the zone on board. Even as the financial crisis spiraled out of control, he refused to support weak governments—Greece, Spain, Portugal—by buying up their debt. That restraint burst on May 10. A run on Greek government bonds had begun to spill over into Portuguese, Spanish, and even Italian sovereign debt, raising fears of a self-feeding downward spiral. That day, Trichet reversed course and announced the ECB would begin buying sovereign bonds after all, “to ensure depth and liquidity.” That, along with a 750-billion-euro loan package from EU countries, stopped the run and gave the euro some breathing room.
  • The Wall Street Journal – Falling Euro Spurs Cautious Intervention Talk
    Officials in the U.S. and Europe concerned about the euro’s decline are cautiously talking about a policy tool they haven’t used in a decade: intervening in currency markets. Policy makers have been content to let markets set the value of the euro, which has fallen about 17% since early December, worrying U.S. exporters who face European competition and raising fear of inflation in Germany. Expectations of the prospects of intervention pushed up the euro to near $1.26, after the currency had slipped below $1.23 earlier. Late in the day, the euro traded at around $1.25. Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit in London, figures the euro would have to fall to about $1.10 in a week or so to prompt policy makers to act. Such a fall could shake markets globally, boost interest rates in Europe, and threaten to undermine a global recovery.
  • The Telegraph (UK) – Whatever Germany does, the euro as we know it is dead
    Angela Merkel’s ban on short-selling is just a distraction from the horror to come
    For Angela Merkel, leader of the eurozone’s richest country, a queue is forming of high-quality adversaries. As she tips German Geld und Gut into the furnace of a rescue package for the euro, while going it alone in a misguided ban on market “manipulators”, the brass-neck Chancellor has infuriated domestic voters, angered her EU partners (in particular the French) and invited the so-called wolf pack of global traders to do its worst. In one respect, Mrs Merkel is right: “The euro is in danger… if the euro fails, then Europe fails.” What she has not yet admitted publicly is that the main cause of the single currency’s peril appears beyond her control and therefore her impetuous response to its crisis of confidence is doomed to fail. The euro has many flaws, but its weakest link is Greece, whose fundamental problem is that for years it spent too much, earned too little and plugged the gap by borrowing in order to enjoy a rich man’s lifestyle. It flouted EU rules on the limits to budget deficits; its national accounts were a moussaka of minced statistics, topped with a cheesy sauce of jiggery-pokery.
  • The Wall Street Journal – Editorial:  The Fear Returns
    Europe’s policy panic is feeding another financial panic.
    Anyone who thought that last week’s IMF-EU bailout would calm markets has had a rude awakening this week, especially after yesterday’s global selloff in stocks. It rarely gets uglier than a 3.6% one-day fall in the Dow and 4.1% on the Nasdaq. Even more ominous is the return of fear in the credit markets, with interbank risk spreads hitting their widest levels since spring 2009. Investors are fleeing riskier assets and moving back to the relative safety of the dollar and U.S. Treasurys, which means less credit available to finance business and risk-taking. The plunge of the euro has exacerbated this flight to the greenback, and the rapid exchange-rate movements of recent weeks are always more disruptive to investment decisions and capital flows than conventional economic wisdom cares to admit. Feeding the financial panic is the policy panic, especially in Europe. Instead of keeping cool, political leaders are restricting short sales, banning hedge funds, and proposing to raise taxes on any euro that moves somewhere that politicians don’t like. All of this only speeds the flight out of euro assets. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble should try not speaking for a day, and see if the euro rises.

Category: Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

7 Responses to “The Fate Of The Euro”

  1. Abhishek says:

    Europe has too many power centers to form a coherent policy to solve their structural problems.Their biggest problem is the centrality of their monetary policy and different fiscal policies of the separate countries.One thing is certain that it will be a long drawn out problem with periodic flares like the Spanish seizure of Catholic Church led Caja today
    http://greenworldinvestor.com

  2. beaufou says:

    “The problem is the market is not buying this “fix too much debt with more debt” approach. More bailouts are not the answer. Austerity is the answer.”

    Maybe if everyone thought a little more about society and less about what the market wants and/or buys, we wouldn’t be in this situation.
    Anyhow, debts all across the globe are the problem, markets have been running the game for a while now and have failed miserably.
    So excuse me; but what the market wants is probably the worse solution unless you are already living in a mansion.
    I just spent 3 weeks in France and the general attitude there is one of resilience, many of my friends and family have different political views but there were no arguments this time, political agendas have been postponed and people are increasingly voicing their frustrations about financial institutions.
    If you have had the opportunity to travel to Europe in recent decades, you surely have realized that Europeans are not living beyond their means, far from it, all this talk is a line of shit served up by a few who think they can keep on bleeding society to make a quick buck.
    It is more a case of bankers living beyond people’s means rather than the other way around, the same is true in the US where the majority of the population is poorer and poorer, and now we are to believe that austerity is the answer; what a joke, with zero growth and 10% unemployment.
    What do you want? another great depression in order to pay interests to usurers?
    I don’t think so, and many people in Europe don’t either, politics across Europe are going to hit a wall if they think their austerity plans will fly, the whole political spectrum is in shambles anyway, you won’t find tea party 5 year olds there, more of a united crowd refusing to give more to those who do nothing but take.
    Euro or not is a conversation for vultures trying to keep up appearances, tough regulations, debt restructuring and the international monetary system will have to be reworked (bancor – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bancor).
    As a side note, I will add that France had no debt until the centuries old system of borrowing from the bank of France at 0% interest was changed to borrowing from commercial banks in 1973, the result is 1500 billion Euros in the red, 45 billions a year of interest alone, follow the money…
    Euro or not, who gives a crap.

  3. aypay says:

    beaufou,
    You sound just like the communist governments in Eastern Europe when things got tight. The problem is not “people not thinking enough about society”. People by and large do not think about society. They think about their own lives. The trick is that when society is organized to redistribute wealth to the bulk of society by taking from the few, society tricks itself into thinking that it is all-for-all. It is really just all-for-themselves under the guide of “we’re just trying to help the little guy”, and then conveniently defining themselves as the little guy. Borrowed money is spending without creating. If you borrow it from someone else who made it then it is at least neutral. When you borrow from the central bank at 0% you just let the central bank spend without creating. And yes, the French too have lived beyond their means. By definition, if you end up massively in debt by spending more than you earned, you have lived beyond your means. Everyone is doing it (the U.S. leading the way by excellent example), and that is just going to make the future very painful, but if the socialists/”society” have their way they will rob the producers and savers first, before they let the pain get to those who consume more than they create.

  4. beaufou says:

    aypay,
    I expected the socialist – communist ghost to come out, reassure yourself, I am not a delusional leftist from another time.
    I suggest you take a look at this link to understand a little history about the financial system we live in since the seventies:
    http://www.questionsquestions.net/docs/may68_vs_degaulle.html

    As far as I remember De Gaulle was no communist either, Fox news may prove me wrong on this one.

    As for living beyond your means, you mean paying interests until you choke, you’re right, every country in the world lives beyond their means because the someone “creating” the borrowed money, and I really can’t understand how it is neutral at all, never has it in the first place.
    A government agency recently did a study on what the french debt would be if the old system was still in place and the answer was no debt, positive 100billion Euros, I guess paying those interests is freedom and capitalism.
    So spare me the socialist bullshit, especially when hundreds of billions are being thrown around to save those good old creators and their stacks of worthless derivatives, where’s the actual contribution to society apart from creating more money for themselves.
    And I’m not in dire straits and thinking about “me”, I haven’t caught the moral relativism virus yet.

  5. cewing says:

    Do you even know what a socialism is?

  6. The fundamental euro concept is wrong. The euro is a surrogate for a gold standard. The gold standard failed because it restricted nations from creating money. So, any crisis requiring a nation to spend more — recession, depression, war, excessive negative balance of payments, deflation — could not be addressed.

    Norway had it right: They didn’t join then EU. The UK had it right: They joined the EU, but maintained control over their own money. Because none of the EU nations has the power to create money at will, each must rely on an ongoing positive balance of payments to add money to its economy for growth — a functional impossibility.

    Since the world’s balance of payments always is zero, a positive balance of payments requires someone else to be negative — a kind of “beggar thy neighbor” policy. For the EU to survive long term, each nation should follow the UK lead.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

  7. [...] links: ‘A financial earthquake’ – FT Alphaville The interactive eurozone crisis – FT Alphaville The fate of the euro – The Big Picture Germany’s eurozone crisis nightmare – Martin Wolf, [...]